Buckingham MP Greg Smith writes to Bucks Free Press readers:

I write this column as news breaks that nearly 600,000 people got their first dose of one of the Covid-19 vaccines in one day over the weekend - and that nearly nine million people in total have received their first dose.

It is something to be proud of that the United Kingdom was not only the first to approve a vaccine but is so far ahead of our neighbours in rolling it out.

By the middle of February, we should start to see real improvements in the data on infections, hospitalisations and the numbers tragically losing their life to this horrendous virus.

READ MORE: 'Delighted': MP confirms High Wycombe will still have a driving test centre next month

That data proving happy news, followed soon after by the governments promised roadmap to start lifting restrictions, with a real prospect that schools can hopefully start to return from March 8.

The government has set out an incredibly tough target to meet, to get the first dose of the vaccine administered to the top four priority groups by the middle of February.

Having been in close contact with our local Clinical Commissioning Group, GP Partnerships and the vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi MP over recent weeks, everything I see and hear points to that target being met.

I appreciate that there has been some concern locally about a slower than expected roll out.

I did make a number of interventions to try and help speed this up and am delighted the roll out everywhere in the constituency is on target and progressing at pace.

I continue to raise issues and concerns from our GPs with ministers as they occur and am always grateful to hear feedback on how people feel the vaccination programme is going locally.

It has been particularly pleasing to receive a number of emails complimenting our vaccination centres on their efficiency and service.

READ MORE: Teenager convicted of manslaughter after man stabbed with screwdriver

I want to add my thanks to everyone involved, who I know have been working tirelessly to make this happen.

The strain on those involved in our GP practices, wider NHS and participating pharmacies, on top of their usual duties, is massive.

So many people really are going above and beyond to make this all happen and we all owe them an enormous debt of gratitude.